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Bell Gardens High band receives foundation donation

MONTEBELLO — Clarinets, saxophones, cymbals, piccolos, guitars and an electric keyboard are among the musical instruments and accessories donated to Bell Gardens High School by the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, a Montebello Unified School District spokesperson said.

The nonprofit organization awarded the Bell Gardens High music program instruments valued at almost  $42,000, as part of its “Keeping Music Alive in Our Schools” campaign.

Foundation members visiting Bell Gardens High School said they were impressed with the dedication and tutelage of music instructor Frank Rico, as well as his department’s range of band offerings and music production program.

“We are impressed by the Bell Gardens High music department,” said Tricia Steel, program director for Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.

“Mr. Rico is accessible to his students before, during and after school and the wide range of the curriculum encourages access to the program for students interested in learning all aspects of music education.”

Budding musicians can join marching band, concert band, orchestra, beginning or after-school jazz band or after-school mariachi band, the spokesperson said.

Prospective recording engineers can take classes on sound editing or song structure.

A recording techniques class focuses on various facts of stage set-up such as lighting, microphone placement and sound board specifications.

“The hands-on technical experience for the students is invaluable,” said Rico, now in his 10th year teaching at Bell Gardens High.

“They lend tech support to many of the district events, including concerts and stage plays.”

“Our music program is one of many visual and performing arts programs Montebello Unified offers as it prepares students to be well-rounded for the next step in their academic, professional and personal lives,” Superintendent of Schools Cleve Pell said.

“We congratulate Mr. Rico, his team and his students for going after this highly generous donation and we look forward to a more robust program as a result.”

Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation was established in 1996 by Michael Kamen, the composer for the motion picture “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” as a means of providing hands-on support for music programs across the country, donating new and refurbished instruments to schools